The seventh annual New Energy & Cleantech Awards, to be held on April 30, will see clean energy companies looking for growth finance present to an investor audience.
For the second consecutive year a cleantech forum will precede the evening awards ceremony. Each company will tell the crowd why they are an attractive investment opportunity in a 15 minute pitch.
Jeremy North, chairman of The Dearman Engine Company, one of the presenting companies, tells Blue & Green Tomorrow about the business.
What problem does your business uniquely solve? How do you solve it?
Reducing diesel use in commercial transport.
Diesel is highly polluting, but difficult to beat as a transport fuel because of its high energy density. The Dearman engine is a patented zero-emission piston engine powered by the expansion of liquid air or nitrogen, whose only exhaust is clean, cold air. The Dearman engine can cut diesel consumption dramatically by:
– Replacing the highly polluting Transport Refrigeration Units that consume up to 20% of the fuel of a refrigerated lorry;
– Recovering the waste heat given off by an internal combustion engine to reduce the diesel consumed for propulsion by 25%.
Application no.1 – zero-emission transport refrigeration – is in on-vehicle demonstration this summer.
Describe your primary drivers for working in renewable energy or cleantech.
The Dearman Engine Company is determined to:
1. Improve air quality. Pollution from nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) causes 29,000 premature deaths in Britain each year, and costs the economy some £20 billion. Transport Refrigeration Units (TRU) are unregulated and emit grossly disproportionate amounts of these pollutants. An analysis of regulatory standards by the consultancy E4tech shows that a trailer TRU emits six times as much NOx and 29 times as much PM as a Euro 6 lorry engine. Compared with a Euro 6 diesel passenger car, the TRU emits almost 93 times as much NOx and 165 times as much PM. The Dearman engine refrigeration system eliminates emissions from transport refrigeration.
2. Reduce food waste. In developing countries 40% of harvested food has to be discarded because the ‘cold chain’ of refrigerated transport and warehouses needed to preserve it is rudimentary or non-existent – so worsening poverty and hunger. Those countries that are creating cold chains are installing highly polluting diesel-powered equipment – so worsening appalling air pollution in cities such as Delhi and Beijing. The Dearman engine system powered by liquid air could provide a cost-effective zero-emissions solution, which is the subject of an IMechE report – A tank of cold: Cleantech leapfrog to a more food-secure world – to be released in July.
Is the government doing enough to support your sector? What should it be doing?
The government has provided substantial support for liquid air technology development through grants provided by the Technology Strategy Board. Dearman also expects to benefit from the development of low volume manufacturing ‘catapult’ centres that fill the gap below the original equipment manufacturers.
While support for liquid air technology development has been good, policy has not yet caught up. For Britain to make the most of liquid air technologies, we suggest the government should:
– Regulate emissions from transport refrigeration. Emissions from TRUS are currently unregulated. Proposals to strengthen the regulations are expected to be adopted by the European Commission (EC) this year, and may come into force by 2019-2021, but will make almost no difference.
The Supreme Court has ruled the UK in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive, exposing Britain to fines of potentially more than £100 million, and most large British cities continue to break local air pollution limits. Regulating emissions from vehicle refrigeration would be a timely and cost-effective way of reducing pollution, and we suggest the arrival of liquid air vehicle refrigeration as a cost-effective solution means the emissions limit could be reduced to zero in fairly short order.
– Recognise liquid air in official technology roadmaps. Liquid air technology and research has been awarded UK grant funding of some £20 million to date. The potential of liquid air has clearly been recognised by grant funding bodies, but because the technology has emerged relatively recently it has not yet been integrated into most low carbon transport roadmaps, which are still overwhelmingly focused on electric and fuel cell vehicles. Liquid air has now been recognised as a potential road transport energy vector by the European Road Transport Advisory Council (ERTRAC) and by the UK Automotive Council; it ought to be similarly recognised in official UK energy and transport policy.
– Review eligibility criteria for green transport funding. Unlike some other low carbon technologies, liquid air engines would be cheap to build, and would generally pay back their investment in short order without subsidy. However, the progress of some applications, such as heat hybrid buses, could be held back by the subsidies awarded through the Green Bus Fund to competing technologies with high capital costs. A report – Liquid air on the highway – concludes that if the Green Bus Fund could be made properly technology neutral, by finding a way to put operating costs on an equal footing with capital costs, the government could procure up to twelve times as many low carbon buses for the same public expenditure.
The government’s general position, rightly, is that taxpayer support for budding green technologies should be even-handed or ‘technology neutral’, yet policy could inadvertently end up ‘picking winners’.
Why do you think your business is attractive to investors?
Innovative fuel efficiency technologies tend to be significantly more expensive than established ones; the Dearman engine breaks that orthodoxy. It will deliver significant economic and environmental impact to customers, without subsidy. It is simple and will be cheap to build. It will be low maintenance and have low environmental impact. A Dearman engine trailer refrigeration unit, for example, would repay its investment within three months – the very definition of ‘free green’.
With first applications in full field trials next year, it can be in low volume commercial production inside two years. The Dearman Engine Company has a clear strategy to well-defined global markets from which it can generate significant licensing revenues or outright sale. It has several different applications that address pressing environmental problems.
A key benefit of the Dearman engine is infrastructure. It can be powered by either by liquid air, or by liquid nitrogen, which is readily available throughout the industrialised world and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies, and the industrial gas industry typically has substantial spare nitrogen production capacity.
In Britain, the projected development of liquid air vehicles could be fuelled entirely from this spare capacity until at least 2025, according to Liquid air on the highway. Road tankers routinely distribute liquid nitrogen so, in contrast to other alternative transport fuels such as hydrogen, the fuel infrastructure is already in place.
The Dearman Engine Company has strong intellectual property including both patents and expertise. The management is experienced and supported by highly skilled and motivated engineers, and backed by committed and knowledgeable investors.
What will the renewable energy and cleantech sectors look like in 10 years’ time?
The future of energy and cleantech sectors will necessarily become much more integrated over the coming decade. The nexus of food, energy and water cannot be solved by any ‘silver bullet’, solutions will need to be integrated. The Dearman engine was recently discussed in the recent IMechE report, Energy Storage: The Missing Link in the UK’s Energy Commitments as an area requiring greater attention in solving UK energy policy.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.
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